Shangela: Tokenism in ‘Boy Meets World’


For reasons  fully understandable to me, though deeply, deeply shameful, I stayed up until 3 in the morning watching old episodes of Boy Meets World.

Actually, I should be more specific.

Some kind soul decided to upload and string together in an old-fashioned, homemade kind of way every significant clip of Shawn Hunter (Rider Strong), Cory Matthew’s troubled best friend, and Angela Moore (Trina McGee-Davis), Shawn’s first major girlfriend. The YouTube clips run 12-14 minutes each, and they are eight parts in total. Official Kxren, the dutiful uploader, explains why there is, as of now, no part 9:


That didn’t do me any good though, so I ended up using Wikipedia as my ad-hoc TV guide and watched the pertinent season 6 and season 7 episodes until I saw the end of their relationship to its forced, unnatural conclusion.

I know exactly why I spent three hours watching Shawn and Angela. It’s the same reason I have occasional, overwhelming longings to watch Something New. But I’ve already done that blog postRead the rest of this entry »


Mo’ Better is best

My first exposure to a Spike Lee joint came courtesy of my 11th grade US history class. Actually it wasn’t a class, it was an after school AP review session for all the cool kids who fancied themselves smart and edumacated (sic). The teacher who taught the session was very popular among a certain subset of intelligent social justice types, about half of whom now appear to be in Teach for America. (You did good Mr. D.)

Anyway, we watched Bamboozled, which is not–it’s safe to say– one of Lee’s finest moments. All of his worst tendencies are on display. His heavy-handedness. His lack of focus. Bad acting. (Lawd have mercy–Damon Wayans’s white voice!) It’s supposed to be a satire but the film is relentlessly humorless.

I judged Mr. Lee so hard after watching Bamboozled. It certainly didn’t help that it seemed like Lee was always taking something too far, like a bitter old uncle. But I guess it’s to his credit that I’ve always gotten an avuncular vibe from him. He cares about black people. He’s very earnest in that way.

The problem is sometimes that unbridled passion can make his films too absurd. Jungle Fever and She’s Gotta Have It, had that effect on me. Do the Right Thing I’ve tried and failed to finish. Malcolm X I’ll conquer when I have three solid hours to spare. (UPDATE: Conquered it. It’s up there.) Read the rest of this entry »

White Noise

Be young, be white, an obvious member of the creative underclass, make a movie, get some buzz, make another movie, cast your famous artist mom, your sister, a fetching Brit, a cruel hipster–and  boom! A New Yorker profile, a Marie Claire  shoutout, mucho love at Vulture, an HBO pilot with Judd Apatow, a film collaboration with Scott Rudin! That’s what happens when good fortune shines on you, or rather when older white women and younger white women and a few men watch a mumblecore movie that takes them back to those postcollegiate years, when  life was hard and purposeless, and you let a strange, unfunny man sleep in your mother’s Tribeca loft and you continually straddle the line between bad acting and mumblecore acting.  Read the rest of this entry »

Halloween Haters

I am a Halloween hater.

Not by choice. My parents made sure every October 31st served as a solemn reminder of America’s godlessness.

We are African. And Africans don’t celebrate Halloween. The idea is actually ludicrous. Witchcraft is alive and well all over the continent and the theory goes, you should never flatter witches with imitation. Any attempts to tell my parents that we wouldn’t dress up as evil spirits fell on deaf ears.

I remember my first Halloween.

My sister and I used to take swimming lessons at the Y. Halloween fell on a Friday that year and all the other kids got to leave swimming class early to get ready. My sister and I were literally the only ones in the pool. We got home and I had swimmer’s ear, per usual, and my eyes were red from the chlorine and we had to take our cornrows out. And there was no candy.

Miserable. Read the rest of this entry »

Crystal Renn pretends she is Japanese

Elementary school kids can be so racist. I know. I was one of them. Call it peer pressure. Someone would press their forefingers against their temples and pull at the skin and everyone would join in. Japanese eyes were angled higher. Chinese eyes were just horizontal. Koreans were a nonissue. We were ignorant kids, man, even if we did attend an international school in the Gambia.

But we were kids, easily impressionable.

There’s no excuse for this racist ish. When will you stop, high fashion? When will you stop pretending you can get away with these things?

UPDATE: Crystal Renn says she was not being racist.  Racialicious thoughtfully disagrees. 

‘The Help’: A review

Not my own review. I will never watch The Help. I would have to be forced to, like on a ten hour flight across the Atlantic, the images of Emma Stone’s awful hair flitting across a screen inches away from my face because the passenger in front of me has so thoughtfully decided to recline his chair to a nice 160 degree angle. But hopefully that will never happen.

No, the review I’m talking about is Slate’s Dana Steven’s. I’ve always liked her. She shares a burning dislike of Natalie Portman–as do I. She likes to watch movies and write about them–as do I. On the first commonality alone, we could be best friends. The fact that she’s a prominent movie critic in a field dominated by awkward, middle-aged white men is just an extra bonus.

You should know, I’ve been obsessively reading reviews of The Help–it’s a habit I develop with movies I either really, really want to see or really, really don’t want to see–and I’ve begun to notice a similar pattern with all of them. Reviewers all give the obligatory spiel on the controversy surrounding the novel and then proceed to not comment on it. Well, some like David Denby from The New Yorker make frustrating comments like this:  Read the rest of this entry »

Being black in the alt magazine world

Man, I feel like I finally understand what people mean when they say your work is your life. I’m gone by 8:30am and don’t get back til 7 and by then, I’m so tired I can’t do anything but eat my fried rice and toast with Nutella. (I shall be jogging on the weekends to mitigate the damage).

I work downtown at an entertainment magazine. And I love it. Even when it’s supposed to be boring, I still find it interesting. Half the time I can’t believe I’m actually there– with a company email address, my own desk, my own phone. Transcribing interviews and (once so far) writing my own stories. It’s awesome.

And very white.  Read the rest of this entry »